Septic Tank Information and Advice

Local authorities may provide information and advice about septic tanks and waste water treatment systems.

What is a Septic Tank?

Septic tank wastes contain high levels of bacteria and other potential disease-causing organisms.

They should only be handled by contractors with the correct equipment and facilities for their safe treatment and/ or disposal. A contractor emptying septic tanks is required to hold a waste collection permit. Householders are obliged to check in advance that the contractors they use have the required permits and they should retain the receipt as evidence of properly emptying their tank.

There are approximately 6,600 domestic wastewater treatment systems (septic tanks and secondary treatment systems) in Carlow. These systems treat the wastewater from toilets, showers, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers.

Domestic wastewater contains many different pollutants such as pathogens like E coli and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. The systems need to be maintained correctly to ensure they don’t threaten human health or the environment.

For detailed guidance see: The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 regulates wastewater discharges from homes connected to a domestic wastewater treatment system. Householders have a duty of care to ensure their treatment system is maintained properly and not causing a risk to human health or the environment. Local Authorities are inspecting DWWTS/septic tanks to check they are not causing problems.

Septic Tank Inspections

Carlow County Council carry out a number of septic tank inspections annually, in accordance with the EPA’s National Inspection Plan. For further information see:

Registration of DWWTS/Septic Tanks

If you have a septic tank or similar treatment system, you must register its details with your local authority and pay a registration fee.

The general deadline for registration was 1 February 2013, but late registrations are still being accepted - see below. If you register after the deadline, you will not be eligible for any grant if your system is found to need remedial work - see ‘Grant Information' below.

New systems which have been installed or built after 1 February 2013 must be registered within 90 days of being connected. Replacements of previously registered systems do not have to be registered separately.

There are 3 ways to register your system:

  1. Online at
  2. By post: You can download a form (pdf). Forms are also available by calling LoCall 1890 800 800 for information. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Protect Our Water’ and posted to Protect our Water, PO Box 12204, Dublin 7.
  3. Registration Forms are also available on the Septic Tank Grant Page.

Change of Ownership

To register a new owner of a DWWTS (for example, after the sale of a house) the new owner should contact Protect Our Water LoCall 1890 800 800 for information.

Grants to Improve or Replace a Septic Tank

There are 3 categories which Grant Applications may fall under:

  • National Inspection plan (NIP)
  • Prioritised Areas for Action (PAA)
  • High Status Objective Catchment Areas (HSOCA)
National Inspection plan (NIP) DWWTPS (Septic tank) Inspections are selected by Carlow Co Co according to risk categories assigned by the EPA on an annual basis and household is notified by the local authority.
Prioritised Areas for Action (PAA) DWWTPS (septic tank) selected by LAWPRO who notify the applicant of their eligibility for grant aid.
High Status Objective Catchment Areas ( HSOCA)

To qualify a household must be located in one of the High Status Objective Areas

You can check if your house is located within a HSOCA here.

The applicant submits an application to Carlow Co Co including a report of works required by a competent person.

Application forms are available on the Septic Tank Grant Page.

All owners of domestic wastewater treatment systems are required to register their systems with the water services authority in whose functional area the systems are located. However, owners of properties connected to larger on-site systems which discharge in excess of 5 cubic metres per day do not need to register.